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Mapped: Nearly 8,000 Future Job Sites in America?

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Experts say the work required to reinforce the US bridges most in need of repair could create 1.2 million construction jobs.

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That would be welcome news to major construction, materials, and machinery companies, such as Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) -- whose sluggish shares were "the biggest weight" on the dropping Dow (INDEXDJX:DJI) early this week -- as well as Deere (NYSE:DE), McDermott (NYSE:MDR), Martin Marietta Materials (NYSE:MLM), and Vulcan Materials Company (NYSE:VMC).

So why hasn't the political will materialized? LePatner argues that state and local government officials are now in the habit of using transportation dollars as part of "a political fiefdom." Politicians will build a road to a shopping mall proposed by a campaign donor, he says, but fixing an old bridge doesn't offer the same kind of glowing PR opportunity.

Early last year President Obama proposed a budget request for the 2013 fiscal year which would include a $476 billion investment in transportation over six years. Bridge repair represented only a portion of the requested budget, with much of the funding meant to be dedicated to mass transit projects like high-speed rail. After a long delay, Congress this summer approved a bill that allocated just over $100 billion to transportation spending over two years. "That's just not going to accomplish the long term goal of bringing our endangered roads and bridges up to 21st century standards and will further imperil our national security, our commercial vitality and substantially increase the eventual cost of repairing these vital facilities" says LePatner.

In November of 2011, members of the Iron Workers Union, together with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), held a rally in DC -- gathering by the "structurally deficient" South Capital Street Bridge -- to call for increased government spending on infrastructure. They demanded support for President Obama's American Jobs Act and other bills designed to dedicate public funds to road, bridge, and public transit renewal. The ironworkers have also called attention to The Fix We're in For: The State of Our Bridges, a report from Transportation For America. That coalition of widely diverse government and private organizations has also created an interactive map of needy bridges.
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